Why not pay commercial providers to assist suicides?

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Assisted suicide is an idea which keeps evolving in unpredictable ways. Who could have foreseen the development of groups of non-doctors which help hundreds of people to die in Switzerland? They are non-profits and charge only for membership and handling fees. But what if companies saw a commercial opportunity in the market for ending one’s life?

Almost everyone finds the notion utterly repugnant, including ardent supporters of assisted suicide. If funeral homes offer creative services for the already dead like drive-through viewing and car-shaped coffins, imagine what tacky deals they would dream up for the about-to-be dead. If you have any doubts about this, check out the options at Golden Gate Funeral Home, an innovative service in Dallas catering for African-Americans. 

Now a bioethicist from the University of Tübingen in Germany has pointed out that “commercially assisted suicide” (CAS) – paying a non-doctor to kill patients – is a logical… click here to read whole article and make comments



Dutch doctors to approve organ donation euthanasia

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Doctors in the Netherlands are working on a scheme to increase the number of life-saving organs available for transplant – by harvesting them from people who want to be euthanased.

Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam and the University Hospital of Maastricht have already written national guidelines which are being studied by the Dutch Transplant Foundation.

If the procedures are approved, they would be binding on hospitals and doctors throughout the country.

Spurring on this study is the feeling among transplant surgeons that healthy organs are sometimes wasted when patients are euthanased. In the words of a medical ethics expert with the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), Gert van Dijk, “An estimated 5 to 10% of people who are euthanased could be considered for organ donation. Five percent does not seem like much, but this still means 250 to 500 potential organ donors every year.” He… click here to read whole article and make comments



The mysticism of Swiss assisted suicide

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EXIT: le droit de mourir
Directed by Fermand Melgar.
75 minutes. Subtitles in English and German. 

In the US, UK and Australia, debates on the right to die are always framed in terms of personal autonomy. Choosing death is said to be the ultimate expression of personal freedom. Characteristically, English-speaking euthanasia campaigners focus on pragmatic issues like the time, place and methods of releasing people from physical pain or psychological anguish. The providers of this release are nearly invisible -- shadowy extensions of the patient’s autonomy. 

But there is another side to the right-to-die movement which apparently flourishes in Switzerland, a mystical side with a proselytising spirituality. And if euthanasia were ever legalised in other countries, this is what it might become. A prize-winning 2005 Swiss documentary, Exit: Le Droit de Mourir (Exit: the right to die), reveals the extraordinary philosophy of people who are committed to helping other people… click here to read whole article and make comments



Australian euthanasia doctor battles deregistration

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Philip Nitschke in Darwin  

On Wednesday the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal wrapped up three days of appeal hearings launched by Philip Nitschke, director of the euthanasia lobby group Exit International, against the suspension of his medical registration in July.

The South Australian Branch of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) acted after the media revealed that Nitschke did not try to dissuade a Perth man, Nigel Brayley, from committing suicide. Suicide prevention associations were outraged.

The Medical Board contended that it used its emergency powers to protect vulnerable suicidal people from Mr Nitschke and his "dangerous ideas".

Since 2012 when an officer of the Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia’s drugs regulator, made a complaint concerning an alleged attempt by Nitschke to import Nembutal, a further 11 formal complaints have been made to the medical watchdog, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

I initiated… click here to read whole article and make comments



What do we know about Brittany Maynard’s death?

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Did Brittany Maynard die freely? This is the question that must be asked after the attractive 29-year-old woman with a brain tumour announced earlier in the week that she would probably postpone the assisted suicide she had scheduled for Saturday, November 1.

"I still feel good enough, and I still have enough joy — and I still laugh and smile with my friends and my family enough — that it doesn't seem like the right time right now," she said in a YouTube video.

Sometime, yes, but not Saturday.

It must have been a bitter pill for Compassion & Choices, the assisted suicide lobby group which had used her as a poster girl for its campaign for legalisation. The members of its boards of directors and advisors are nearly all in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Here was a winsome and articulate woman in her… click here to read whole article and make comments



Brittany Maynard decides to live—UPDATED

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A few hours after this was posted, Brittany Maynard's death was announced. MercatorNet will repost shortly. 

There can be no more persuasive explanation than an attractive, intelligent young woman with tears trickling down her cheeks. As she dabs at her eyes, the trembling words always sound heart-piercingly right. Perhaps from an evolutionary perspective, we’re programmed to agree with her, because young women need to be protected so that they can live to have a family.

It’s the tears that sweep us away in the videos which Brittany Maynard has made with assisted suicide activists at Compassion and Choices, not the ideas. With more than 9 million hits on YouTube, it must have been the best-ever advertisement for right-to-die lobby. The ideas are pretty shop-worn. Marcia Angell, a campaigner for assisted suicide and a former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, puts them in a nutshell in a recent Washington Post op-ed: “people are increasingly asking why anyone… click here to read whole article and make comments



The illusion of “peace of mind”

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dripOn October 15th  , the Supreme Court of Canada began hearing an appeal by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association on assisted suicide. Since then various National Post columnists have shared their views on the topic. 

Three key words tend to drive supporters of assisted suicide:  control, autonomy and dignity. I do wish, however, that writers would take better care in defining their understanding of these concepts; if they did we would probably realize that the supporters and opponents are not that far apart in their views. After all, who does not wish to have control over his or her life and to exercise self-determination? And who would not agree when asked: Do you want to die with dignity?

The dividing line is the degree to which we believe we can trespass on another life. For some, this boundary exists since the dawn of humanity and to infringe it represents a homicide. For… click here to read whole article and make comments



Rejecting euthanasia, respecting the human spirit

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A Woman's Face in B&W - The Beauty of a Good, Lived Life / Thailand 
Flickr / Ronn aka "Blue" Aldaman


Recently, Jonathan Kay, John Moore and I participated in a panel on CBC’s The National, discussing assisted suicide and euthanasia. Kay supported extreme individual autonomy: Whatever their reason, competent adults should have the right to euthanasia. Moore proposed some conditions, such as terminal illness, on exercising that right. I argued that we should reject euthanasia, in part, because it’s dangerous for vulnerable people and society.

Subsequently, both Kay and Moore wrote articles for the Post supporting their views and decrying mine.

Kay characterized Canadian society as “post-religious.” Pondering why such a society would oppose legalizing euthanasia, he writes: “But the remnants of religious belief play a role, too. Deep down, many of the… click here to read whole article and make comments



Canada at a deadly crossroads

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Dear fellow Canadians,

On Wednesday, October 15 the Supreme Court of Canada will hear the appeal in the Carter case. It will decide whether the Criminal Code’s prohibition of assisted suicide is constitutional. If the prohibition is struck down, doctors will be involved in assisted suicide and euthanasia. As physicians, we have followed with a growing sense of dismay the public debate over whether to introduce into medical practice the act of inflicting death. We write to you today to give a medical perspective on this crucial debate.

It is a long standing commitment of the medical profession ‘To cure sometimes, to relieve suffering often, and to comfort always.’ It is a breach of that commitment to inflict death. The World Medical Association and the near-totality of national medical associations agree that intentionally ending patients’ lives is not an ethically acceptable part of the physician’s role. This… click here to read whole article and make comments



Is there meaning in suffering?

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The debate about euthanasia is heating up. Most questions of modern medical ethics arise from new technologies that present new questions. Yet, euthanasia has nothing fundamentally to do with technology; the concept of mercy-killing is ancient. Few cultures, however, have ever embraced human euthanasia as morally acceptable. What has changed in Canada today to bring back the debate?

Many things. Among the most important is our culture's growing sense of nihilism about suffering and its significance. Owing partially to our material wealth, we have come to see pain as a difficult aberration in life rather than as a meaningful part of it. As such, when we see ourselves or loved ones in pain, we want it simply to end — immediately.

This is problematic since pain is a part of every life ever lived. From the agony of birth, to that first heartbreak, to our own inevitable… click here to read whole article and make comments


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Careful! is MercatorNet's blog about end-of-life issues. We respect the dignity of each person from the beginning of life to its natural end. Leave your comments at the foot of our articles. The more the better! Write to us at

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